Edinburgh takes part in assistive tech workshops
By Gaetano Sifoni
On September 28, students at Edinburgh Elementary School of the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) partnered with McGill University and an organization called Makers Making Change to participate in hands-on, interactive workshops building low-cost assistive technology for people with disabilities. Each class in Grade 5 and 6 participated in a 75-minute workshop.
In all, students built over 80 switches that will be donated to MacKay Centre School of the EMSB and Constance Lethbridge Rehabilitation Centre. In doing so, they learned about practical applications for 3D printing, while also having the chance to raise their awareness and understanding of people with special needs. Students engaged in conversation about different types of assistive technologies in our everyday lives and, for many, it was the first time that they were able to consider how inaccessible so many things are – things we take for granted. What’s more, they were shocked to discover how much these simple assistive switches cost to purchase and were thrilled at the opportunity to make and donate them thanks to the workshop.
Makers Making Change is an organization that aims to provide low-cost assistive technology for people with disabilities. They do this through their website, where they have a library of open-source devices that anyone can access and make for anyone who may need it. They also provide low-cost assistive devices by partnering with groups of volunteers where they lead workshops building an assistive device, providing the tools, instructions and parts. They often do these sessions with schools like Edinburgh as it is a great way to have students try soldering and assembling and applying 3D printing, while also having the chance to discuss and learn about accessibility and assistive technology. These workshops allow students to focus on STEM with a purpose: youth learn new skills and serve their community while improving their awareness and understanding of people with disabilities.
For more information on Makers Making Change: https://makersmakingchange.com
Gaetano Sifoni is principal of Edinburgh Elementary School.